HS Prannoy fought from a game down to beat Lakshya Sen in a thriller while PV Sindhu lost to Carolina Marin on her injury comeback in the first-round of the Malaysia Open Super 1000 on Wednesday. In doubles, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty advanced to the second round with a straight-games win.
Sixth seed Sindhu, playing her first match since a stress fracture on her left ankle en route the Commonwealth Games gold in August, lost 12-21, 10-21, 15-21 to Marin of Spain in 59 minutes.
World No. 8 Prannoy lived up to his new status as India No 1 in men’s singles player with a 22-24, 21-12, 21-18 victory over Lakshya Sen, ranked 10th, in an edgy encounter that lasted just over an hour. The 30-year-old is the last Indian standing in the singles draw and will next face Indonesia’s Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo.
Satwik and Chirag, ranked fifth in the world, beat the Korean pair of Choi Sol Gyu and Kim Won Ho 21-16, 21-13. The world No. 5 pair will meet Indonesians Muhammad Shohibul Fikri and Bagas Maulana next.
– BWF (@bwfmedia) January 11, 2023
Among other Indians in action, Malvika Bansod, went down to losing second seed An Se Young 9-21, 13-21 while the women’s doubles pair of Ashwini Bhat and Shikha Gautam lost 10-21, 12-21 to Thailand’s Supissara Paewsampran and Puttita Supajirakul.
Prannoy wins latest all-Indian battle
The sixth Prannoy vs Lakshya clash in a year lived up to its top billing with the first game being a tight contest with both Indians holding 2 game points. Lakshya had grabbed the early lead at 7-4 but it was Prannoy went into the break with a two-point lead at the break, before Lakshya drew level.
Following a few disputable line calls (matches between compatriots are not held on main TV courts) the game was locked at 19-19 at one stage. But it was Lakshya who cinched it with some solid defence.
In the second game, Prannoy grabbed the early lead and maintained it with Lakshya committing a series of unforced errors from the changed end. With the younger player struggling, Prannoy dictated the game and rushed to a nine game-point advantage and sealed it with a smash to force the decider.
In the decider, Lakshya moved to 8-4 from the end he had won from but clawed back at 9-9 with a flurry of smashes before entering the break with a slender lead of 11-10.
After the final change of ends, Prannoy opened up a three-point lead with his better placements and sharp strokeplay. Lakshya’s attempt to go for the lines backfired, as soon it was 18-14 advantage for Prannoy. A push on the back-line earned Prannoy three match points and he sealed it with another backhand block which kissed the line even as Lakshya was upset with the line call and flung his racquet in frustration.
Sindhu’s comeback cut short by Marin
Sindhu came into the match with a 5-9 head-to-head record against Marin, who had a tough last few years, having suffered an ACL injury in both her knees.
The Indian had an understandably rusty start as she struggled with her movement allowing an aggressive Marin to grab an 11-3 lead at the interval. Sindhu slowly built her rhythm but Marin raced away to eight game points with precise returns, converting at the first opportunity.
In the second game, Sindhu found her length from the favourable end, gaining a massive seven-point lead at the break. The Indian followed up her strokes well, playing some excellent shots and looking more polished at the net as she grabbed 10 game points with the Spaniard going to the net time and again. Sindhu converted it when Marin faltered with her net play again.
In the decider, Marin again found her touch as her cross-court returns, punch clears and body smashes kept Sindhu at bay. The Spaniard moved into the break with a four-point advantage after Sindhu went wide.
On resumption. Sindhu failed to negotiate Marin’s pacey returns and played several mishits and eventually went down just short of the hour mark. Nevertheless, it was a strong showing from Sindhu after five months away.
With PTI Inputs